Baird: Asia Top Foreign Policy Priority for Canada

Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird delivered a speech on Canadian trade relations in the Asia Pacific region on March 13, 2013. (Stephen Tong/Asia Society Hong Kong Center)

HONG KONG, March 13, 2013 — In a three-day visit to southeast and east Asia, Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird explained why Canada is making Asia a foreign policy priority. His remarks came here at Asia Society Hong Kong Center in a speech on Canada's trade relations in the Asia Pacific region.

In his seventh visit to Asia since he became foreign minister in 2011, Baird said it's a "national imperative" for Canada to take an active role in Asia to expand Canada's economic prosperity as "the world's center of gravity — economic, political and demographic — is shifting to Asia." He stressed Canada is meeting the needs of Asia's rising middle class by supporting its building of cities and related infrastructure, and offering expertise in financial services and diversified energy supplies, especially in China and India.

Myanmar is another area of focus for Canadian foreign policy in Asia. The Minister reported Canada will soon open the first Canadian embassy in Yangon and is set to establish a full-service trade commissioner as part of the embassy. "Our commitment to support Burma and its people in their democratic development has also served to signal to our partners in Asia that Canada brings a comprehensive and constructive approach to the region," said Baird.

The text of Minister Baird's speech is available at the website of the Foreign Affairs and International Trade of Canada. CBC News reported on the Foreign Minister's visit to Asia Society Hong Kong Center.

Video: Watch the complete talk (42 min., 12 sec.)